Steve Wilks says ‘sky is the limit’ for the 49ers defense this season

Sep 28, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: Sep 29, 2023, 9:00 am

Javon Hargrave #98 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after sacking Daniel Jones #8 of the New Y...

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While Steve Wilks is the new coach on the block in San Francisco, he’s quite familiar with the game of football.

The veteran defensive coordinator has spent many years bouncing around the NFL, spending various amounts of time with five different organizations before his current post. He’s even had great squads in college while he was working his way up the coaching ranks.

But none of them have been like the 49ers.

San Francisco’s new DC agreed with star pass rusher Nick Bosa saying that the defensive line had their best game of the season in Week 3. Causing havoc throughout last Thursday’s clash with the New York Giants, made life hell for quarterback Daniel Jones.

But that performance wasn’t enough for Wilks, who saw much greater potential for his squad moving forward.

“Far greater, far greater [potential]. And I’m not doubting what [Bosa] said, that is our best game up until today, and we want to continue to take the next step each and every game. So, the potential that this unit has, not just up front on the defensive line but as a unit, sky is the limit,” Steve Wilks said Thursday.

This isn’t news either, with the North Carolina native singing the praises of San Francisco’s defense since the spring.

What is new though is the attention to detail that the unit possesses, locked in on everything they do on the field. It’s the little things that matter the most at the highest level, and the 49ers do that to a tee, according to Wilks.

“I told you guys back in the spring, I’ve never been around an elite group like this before,” he stated. “And it’s not [about] the talent, it’s how we work. You know, these guys grind everyday. Walkthroughs they’re locked in and focused. Everything’s about details and that’s the difference at this level. I’ve been doing it for a long time, there’s a lot of talent around the league, but nobody is a stickler to the details as we are here.”

Those details have earned San Francisco a 3-0 start for the second time in the last 25 years. They’ll look to continue that this week against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Birds have turned some heads this season, knocking off the Dallas Cowboys in a 28-16 upset in Week 3. This doesn’t come as a total surprise to Wilks however, seeing a well-run team that plays the game at their speed.

And that starts with running back James Conner and the offensive line.

“Number 1: Conner runs the ball hard, very determined guy, makes a lot of people miss after contact. Again, the offensive line is don’t get enough credit, they do a great job. The gap schemes open up holes getting onto the perimeter, get to the second level. So they create a lot of problems,” Wilks explained.

Luckily, the 49ers have a plan for that, with elite run-stoppers in the trenches.

San Francisco has been able to win at the line of scrimmage all year, largely due to the addition of DT Javon Hargrave. After keeping Jones at bay in Week 3, the Red & Gold will look to keep QB Joshua Dobbs inside the pocket as well. And that comes from Wilks’ front four.

“Well hopefully, we’re able to get pressure with our front four. I have a lot of confidence in those guys. You know, coming off the ball and trying to create some havoc. The key thing that we got to do first, we got to stop the run,” the coach said.

While it’s easy to overlook Arizona, (especially with a date with the Dallas Cowboys on the horizon) San Francisco knows they can’t do that. Their quest for Super Bowl No.6 starts and ends with each game week, focusing on owning each day along the way.

“Only thing that we talked about is trying to win the day. Take it one step at a time, and right now it’s Arizona,” Steve Wilks stated.

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Sunday, October 1st vs. Arizona Cardinals – 1:25 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 8th vs. Dallas Cowboys – 5:20 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 15th @ Cleveland Browns – 10:00 AM PST
  • M0nday, October 23rd – @ Minnesota Vikings – 5:15 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 29th – vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:25 PM PST

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Steve Wilks says ‘sky is the limit’ for the 49ers defense this season